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Saying goodbye to Columbus

Staff WriterMay 25, 2019

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go” -Oscar Wilde

Friends, it is with a heavy heart that I bid you all farewell. Every other Saturday for two years, I aimed to entertain and educate you. It has been my pleasure. Sometimes I think that it has been my only pleasure at that time.

Unknowingly I loved it when you would approach me in public to ask questions. I will miss this. I loved it when you would comment on my article. I will miss this. I loved it when I was recognized. I might not miss the negative recognition. All of this happened when I was even off the clock. Nevertheless, it was all appreciated.

In the last five-and-a-half years that I have been with the city working Animal Control, I have witnessed many things. I have seen both the good and the bad. Sometimes I don’t know if I always made the right call when out in the field, but I had to think at a moment’s notice. The laws are all black and white but sometimes you need to think out of the box to find a gray area.

Constructively, I always tried to be fair. I always tried to be compassionate even when I was told not to be. I also always tried to get you into compliance. I felt that when pets were licensed and when laws were followed it all made it easier for the community in a whole. I cannot believe the number of dogs that are picked up running at large that are never claimed. It has boggled my mind that well cared for dogs were never claimed.

Know-how is the key to success. In the last two years, I have worked as the lead animal control officer. This was a great opportunity. In this time, I have changed some city codes and added new ones. I looked at all the ordinances and tried to make changes where they were needed. Banning roosters was needed. Adopting Lifetime Licenses was needed. Increasing the fees for repeat animal releases was needed. I looked for areas that I could save the city money in the Animal Control department.

In my time, I have made some great connections in the field. Raptor Recovery out of Bellevue was a great asset to help injured raptors. The State of Nebraska vet assisted in many rabies cases along with the infectious disease coordinator in Columbus. I connected with Horn T Zoo and gave them a couple of exotics that were released to us. I connected with other Animal Control agencies across the United States to find new ways for animal controlling here. I have taken many training classes just to try to be the best I could be.

Some of the greatest connections that I have made is with the vet clinics in town. As an impartial party, I could not pick and choose one clinic over another. I would always keep my personal opinions to myself. I still will do that but two of the clinics went above and beyond the call of duty to help me and Animal Control out. I will always be eternally grateful for that.

I have had assistance from many other employees of the city. The support that I have received was appreciated. Although we may not have always seen eye to eye, I do thank you for the opportunities and the assistance.

I want to thank the Columbus Police Department for all the assistance it has given me in the years. Although they may have wanted to be chasing after hardened criminals, they would go out of their way to pick up a stray dog or cat. They are some of the finest officers that I have ever worked with. In my time, they have been led by two great chiefs. Three if you count the interim chief. They have always supported Animal Control and all its endeavors. For that, I can never thank you enough. Along with the chiefs, I have had the privilege to work with some pretty above average captains and sergeants. Their tutelage has been invaluable. I cannot leave out the dispatcher, CSTs, investigators, uniformed officer, or office secretaries. I owe all of you a debt of thanks.

Lastly, I want to thank The Columbus Telegram for giving me a voice. I got to put that voice into print for you all to read. And I think writing to you every other week will be one of the things I miss most. I love to entertain and many of you that talked to me about these articles would tell me how entertained you were.

It reminded me of dealing cards at the casino so many years ago. I would just tell the guests stories as I took their money. Isn’t that an important thing in life? Making others happy. I know that sometimes I upset people but overall I tried to make people happy. Whether it was by telling a story or finding their lost pet. It could have been telling them that the bat that bit them did not have rabies or that I removed the skunk from their window well. The smile on their face is what made it worth it at times.

I thank you all. I thank you for the opportunities that were presented to me. I thank you for the faith this city put in me. I thank you for the knowledge and experience. Life is a roller coaster with its ups, downs, and loopy loops. I thank you all for this golden opportunity but as Robert Frost says, “Nothing gold can stay.”

Shawn Flowers has resigned as lead animal control officer for the City of Columbus.

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